Cinque Terre was by far our most recommended spot for our trip to Italy, and our agreed favorite place of the whole trip. It was just such an incredible place full of culture, great food, beautiful views.. and it was much more relaxing than exploring all around Rome and Venice, our two previous stops. For those who don't already know, Cinque Terre is five small towns on the riviera. It's a hot spot for people who enjoy hiking between all of the towns, and beaching, too! I went into the trip thinking that I would enjoy the Amalfi Coast a lot more than Cinque Terre.. but I was wrong. Cinque Terre has absolutely been discovered by tourists, but wasn't crawling and still felt preserved.
Where we stayed: Pensione Sorriso in Vernazza
Why we loved it: incredible location, you can see it to walk to from the train station, and are just moments away from the small but charming heart of Vernazza. For us, staying in Vernazza was the absolute best choice we made of the whole trip. We had originally booked to stay in the larger, more touristy Monterroso and changed after a friend suggested it. I am so grateful for that suggestion. Even though we were so close to what was happening, we often sat on the front steps of our place and no one would be around. It was so wonderful! The pension itself was clean, well sized, and had a beautiful balcony garden that we really enjoyed. Some of the largest most beautiful hydrangea bushes I have ever seen were up there, along with lemon trees!
What we did:
- Explored! After arriving in Vernazza we put our baggage in our room and started discovering fun places! It cost a euro each to enter into the "castle" in Vernazza and it was so worth it for some majorly incredible views. Super fun!
- On our full day in the Cinque Terre area, we slept in, and headed out for the difficult hike back to Monterroso, where our train had arrived. The hike took a little less than two hours and was mostly uphill. For sure during the first half I was really unsure about if I would be able to make it.. but it's now one of my favorite life experiences!
- Enjoyed the beach in Monterroso (I made a sweet video on my phone of the view from where we hung out and this man in a speedo kept walking close to me and almost in my video- yikes!!!)
- ate super fresh lemon gelato and sorbet
- took a fun water taxi! As soon as we were done in Monterroso we discovered a train strike- our only option back to Vernazza was hiking again. And we were zonked and not feeling that at all. We found this jolly family from Utah in the same situation, and all hopped on a water taxi which ended up being a 5 euro each incredible experience riding on the tiny boat through the sea.
- Ate pesto! Pesto was invented in the Cinque Terre region and it sure does show! Best food I've ever eaten. There is a pasta called "trofie" that was created to hold the flavor of the pesto well and we enjoyed that the first night at a nice, expensive place with a beautiful view. Our second night we got cheap takeaway of the exact same thing and it was just as good if not better... AND we enjoyed it sitting right by the water. I wish I could go back and enjoy that meal over and over again!
- Ate seafood and focaccia bread. Okay.. so can you tell we really enjoyed the food here? After our hike, we were starving! We grabbed a cup of fried calamari with fresh lemon and it was genuinely so yummy. We love seafood so that was a highlight. SO was the delicious focaccia bread, also invented in this region. Ben ate more of that than I did though, I was in it to win it when it came to eating loads of pesto.